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Government Spokesman: Conditions for Direct Negotiations Exist
2001-12-04 16:44:12

Nicosia, Dec 4 (CNA) -- President Glafcos Clerides believes that the conditions necessary for direct negotiations with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, under UN auspices, have been created, government spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said here today, adding that the possibility of a permanent solution cannot be left "unexplored and unexploited."

Commenting on today's agreement between Clerides and Denktash to begin direct talks in mid January in Cyprus, the government spokesman said the basis of the talks continues to be the UN Secretary General's good offices mission and his terms of reference, as defined in UN Security Council resolutions.

The government considers that the talks should be in earnest and should conclude within a "reasonable time frame" and promises to go to the negotiating table in good faith and with a strong desire for a settlement.

The spokesman announced that tomorrow, President Clerides will attend a dinner hosted by Denktash in his residence in Turkish occupied Nicosia in honour of UN Secretary General's Special Adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, who was present at today's meeting.|

"The President believes that at today's meeting the conditions for direct negotiations, under the aegis of the UN Secretary General and in accordance with his terms of reference, as defined by Security Council resolutions, were created," Papapetrou told a briefing after the hour-long face to face meeting between Clerides and Denktash.

Under these circumstances, he said, "the possibility of a permanent solution of the Cyprus question cannot remain unexplored and unexploited", adding that the meeting dealt with procedural matters.

Stressing that the Greek Cypriot side will go to the talks "in good faith and with a strong will for a solution," the spokesman said such a solution should be based on UN resolutions, respect for human rights and the acquis communautaire, with a view to having a permanent and just settlement "for the benefit of all the people of Cyprus, Greek and Turkish Cypriots."

The President considers that the interests of the people of Cyprus, on the basis of declared positions, "can be secured", Papapetrou said, adding that the talks should be continuous and conclude within a "reasonable time frame."

"The government believes that there must not be long drawn discussions and repetition of known declarations and analysis of details, something which the government will diligently avoid to do," the spokesman said in his initial remarks.

Invited to comment on the absence of any reference to UN resolutions, the spokesman said "this absence means nothing, the basis of the talks, under the aegis of the good offices of the Secretary General, remains unchanged."

This basis, he explained, relates to the four principles outlined in UN resolution 1250, which calls on the two leaders to begin talks with no preconditions, with all issues on the table, to negotiate in good faith until a comprehensive settlement is reached and taking full consideration of relevant resolutions and treaties.

"The basis of the talks has been secured and there is no reason to repeat the obvious again and again," the spokesman said.

Replying to questions, he said "each meeting between Clerides and Denktash, as part of the peace effort, cannot be turned into a death duel with a vanquished and a victor, as this may satisfy part of public opinion but it will never lead to a just settlement."

"The President is determined to go to talks in good faith and a firm objective to achieve a settlement that will meet in the long term the visions of the people of Cyprus," the spokesman said, pointing out that "the government has no intention of blowing everything up in the air as they begin to emerge."

"Our goal is to exploit every opportunity offered to us for a solution, making sure the interests of the people of Cyprus are safeguarded, and without hiding behind words, commas or fears," the spokesman added.

Questioned on tomorrow's dinner in occupied Nicosia, the spokesman stressed that "the presence of President Clerides at the dinner does not in any way signify, even indirectly, recognition of the illegal Turkish Cypriot regime in occupied Cyprus", which no other state but Turkey recognizes.

The spokesman said this is the first time the President will go to dinner in Turkish occupied Cyprus.

Earlier today, Clerides and Denktash agreed to meet again in mid January with a view to negotiate until a comprehensive settlement is reached.

This was their first face to face meeting since August 1997. CNA MM/TT/2001 ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

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